By Nicolas Sabatini
Oct. 2 marks a new era for Lewis & Clark College, as president Wim Wiewel took office. To acknowledge Wim Wiewel’s first day as president, a bike ride took place in the neighborhood surrounding LC on Monday morning. It began at 9 a.m. at the Cooley house, the LC president’s residence, and ended at the LC graduate campus. Approximately 20 members of the community joined the ride.
“It was really wonderful,” Wiewel said. “I was so happy to have members from the community, faculty, staff and students come out and join in this symbolic activity. We did a bike ride to symbolize our commitment to sustainability, and I wanted to do it with others to symbolize the sense of community that I think is such an important part of Lewis & Clark.”
Although the ride was short, Wiewel said that it allowed the community to get to know each other. Wiewel is from the Netherlands and cycling is part of his culture.
“It’s part of my heritage,” Wiewel said. “Nine years ago when I came to Portland to take on the presidency of Portland State, I rode my bike from Portland State’s president’s house to the campus. At that time, I did it with the mayor. This time, I wanted to do it with the people I’m going to be working with most of the time.”
Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez said she was excited that Wiewel started his term Monday with a bike ride.
“I think it shows his appreciation of the values that we have, sustainability and fun,” Gonzalez said. “I love the fact that he is willing to do that and put himself out there to get to know our community in that way.”
Gonzalez said that Wiewel values a liberal arts education and he is eager to meet students. She also thinks that Wiewel has some big ideas for the school, especially when it comes to fundraising.
“One of his expertise is fundraising, to help our students get more scholarships and to help with the needs of the institution,” Gonzalez said. “He was able to fundraise and to have new buildings that support the institution’s growth. He can bring his ideas and expertise to fundraising and knowing Portland into this college.”
Christen Cromer ’18 is confident Wiewel will get involved with student organizations.
“I’m looking forward to a president that is more accessible and actually interested in hearing the voices of the students, specifically students of color on campus,” Cromer said. “I met with him earlier in the semester, and he was actually interested in going to some of the meetings of the students of color and hearing what the campus culture actually consists of.”
Associated Students of Lewis and Clark (ASLC) President Marissa Valdez ’18 agrees with Cromer and is also glad to have Wiewel as president, but she does have a concern.
“I’m worried that the students aren’t really accepting him, especially because of the PSUSU (Portland State University Student’s Union) posts on Facebook this past summer,” Valdez said. “The PSUSU isn’t a recognized student organization at PSU. They are not the student government and they aren’t affiliated with their student activities. But they are acting as if they are, and I think that spread a lot of fake news around the Lewis & Clark community.”
Despite some controversy, Ostin Merkle-Lawler ’19 is hopeful that Wiewel will bring the LC community together.
“I’m really hopeful for this president to bring this community together, especially with all the crazy things that have been happening in the news and race relations,” Merkle-Lawler said. “There needs to be some change of how (the president) plays a role here.”
As Wiewel assumes office, Cromer said that students should view the president with an open mind.
“I’m big on the students making sure they come and look at the president with a very clear mindset and without expectations,” Cromer said.